‘An Inspector Calls’ is a production about society and how different people feel about it. It also touches on peoples conscience and was written by J. B. Preistley. It’s all about a family in 1912 but was written in 1945, the families name is the Birlings who all has a part in the death of a woman called Eva Smith. We went to the production of An inspector Calls in the West End. It furthered my understanding of many of the characters, but I found myself far more interested in these characters, the inspector, Eric and Shelia.
Shelia in the script seems very young and innocent and has no true understanding of 1912 life this can be seen when mr Birling was talking about cheap labour act 1 “but these girls aren’t cheap labour there people”, she also seems to be influenced in the way that if she hears what the inspector is saying then she believes and sticks up for him. She seemed pleased with what she believes is life and rather excitable. She seems to be the one who develops most in the script and play. From the opening description of her, followed by her account of her getting Eva Smith the sack – which shows her as a spoilt, self – centred brat. She soon seems to face up to her part in Eva Smith’s death and talks about the guilt she feels. Act 1 “Its the only time I have ever done anything like that and ill never do it again to anybody”.
She faces up to her future husband’s unpleasant truths and of course her family, especially her father. , and learns lessons which will influence her forever. She is not a likable person at the start of the play but her personality changes when the inspector calls. She knows Gerald is lying about last summer Act 1 “except all last summer, when you never came near me, and I wondered what had happened to you”. When I went to the production of an inspector call it furthered my understanding of Shelia by the way that when she confesses about her part in Eva Smiths. She went to the front of the stage and the light shone on her most and it made it fell like she was asking your opinion like a judge and jury. This furthered it as it showed they she felt bad about what she had done and wanted forgiveness.
Eric didn’t seem to develop much in the play as he did very little in it as he was always sulking but quiet at ease, half – shy half-assertive. He seems very polite when he spoke but when drunk he babbled and groaned also when he is speaking to someone he seems a bit ignorant in the way he express himself and is childish. Act 1 “What about war” He seems to be innocent but really he is a drunk who used Eva Smith for sex and nothing else, but his parents don’t notice. His sister Sheila has started to notice the way he drinks and the amount he is having. This turns out to be a main part in Shelia’s personality as she was very observant on how much he was drinking. My understanding was furthered when we went to the production as when he was confronted he was completely drowned in alcohol and didn’t know what to say for instants when he was being questioned he was very badly stumbling on words Act 3 “you know didn’t you?”. But in the scripted we don’t get a good idea of what he is really like as they cant express they’re self-much.
The inspector was an quite old man of about 50 in a brown trench coat and a black suit underneath. He seems to be straight to the point. When Edna introduced him she emphasized the word Goole as if it was a ghoul (a person intrigued by death or an evil spirit or phantom). Act 1 “A police inspector his says his name is inspector Goole”. This helped me understand as it made it clearer that maybe he wasn’t real at all in the production when he was confronting them the light shone hard on them as if it was an interrogation. I feel he was there to weaken their defences so that they would tell the truth to the real inspector who would follow after he left. In the script he seems to talk to them all in the same way but in the production he talked nicely to both Shelia and Eric. I feel that he know they would change their ways. But was nasty to Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald, as they wouldn’t change their ways.
In the second part of this essay I will talk about two themes they are ‘war’ and ‘who is the inspector’.
War is used in many different ways in the play. The first is when Mr Birling is talking to the whole family. Then Eric asks about war Act 1 “what about war”. To which Mr Birling replies “just because the Kaiser make a speech or two or a few German soldiers have too much to drink and begin talking nonsense, you’ll have some people who say war is inevitable and I say fiddle-sticks! The Germans don’t war, nobody what’s war except some half-citizens in the Balkans and why there’s too much at stake these days. Everything to lose and nothing to gain in war”. This means that he doesn’t believe there will ever be a war. In the production when he said this an unusual noise like a horn is heard this is to represent dramatic irony (when either you know something that they don’t know). This furthered my understanding of the play as it showed the irony far clearer then in the text. It was also used when the inspector is warning them. Act 3 “and I tell you the time will come when, if men will not learn that lesson. They will be taught it in fire, blood and anguish” when he says this he means there will be war. (WW1 and WW2) they use the noise again when he says this.
The inspector has a large part to play in this even more so is the fact you don’t know who he is it is as if you are not to know. It is very hard to pinpoint who he is as he could be so many different things. He is gentle yet aggressive but I feel this may be because he needs to use force on some to get what he needs to hear. He seems to talk nicely to Shelia and Eric but aggressive to the rest of the family(as I have said). I feel his name is not accidental, as Goole seems to be a pun as a similar word is ghoul meaning a person interested in death or an evil spirit or phantom. You get this idea, as when he’s introduced Edna seems to express the word Goole Act 1 “he says his name is Goole”. He is no evil spirit but seems to be the policeman of conscience. As it seems to me as if he is trying to weaken their defence’s with help from Shelia. When he enters on to the stage he gives “an immediate sense of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness even though he is in no way large”. When I watched the production he seemed to always look hard at whom he was talking to so as to make them tell the truth. This furthered my understanding as it showed what he was like to different people in different ways and what a good devise he was as I feel that Priestley used him as a device to show what well happen if they do wrong.
I conclude that the production furthered my understanding a lot and that in my essay I have commented on many different things like devises that were used like the inspector also it shows more of what each character is like and how they react to being and the way in which they express there feelings for Eva Smith.